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There are a variety of countertop microwaves—some are simple, and others are high-tech. For those who don’t know, a countertop microwave is a traditional appliance you sit on top of a kitchen counter as opposed to drawer microwaves or over-the-range options.
Although there are some people who believe myths about countertop microwaves, they are a helpful addition to your kitchen. Countertop microwaves do more than just heat food; they can defrost, keep food warm, and are programmed to cook certain foods easily.
When looking for a countertop microwave, there are a few features to consider. On the technical side, the size of your microwave matters. Anything too big or small may not work in your kitchen. Then there is design. Sleek, modern, and old-school microwaves all have the latest technology to fit your needs. Finally, consider additional cook options of interest; some countertop microwaves can grill, some have a sensor cook ability, and others double as convection ovens.
To help narrow down your choices, here are the best countertop microwaves.
Best Overall: Toshiba ML-EM34P(SS) Smart Countertop Microwave Oven
Dimensions (LxWxH): 20.4 x 16.6 x 12.4 inches | Capacity: 1.3 cubic feet | Wattage: 1100 W
If you’re looking for a microwave that can fit a lot of your cooking needs, then this Toshiba Smart Countertop Microwave Oven is a great pick for everyone.
The microwave, which has 1.3 cubic feet of interior space, comes in stainless steel, can be synced with Alexa for voice-activated use, and has an eco mode to save operation costs inside your home. Even better, this microwave has 1100 watts, which is great for heating food effectively and quickly. Plus, a humidity sensor automatically adjusts its cooking power depending on the humidity level of the food.
The 35-pound microwave is large enough to fit everyday dishes but small enough to save you some counter space. It does come with 23 preset buttons to help you get started.
Best Budget: Danby Countertop Microwave
Dimensions (LxWxH): 17 x 13 x 10.3 inches | Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet | Wattage: 700 W
Everyone has a budget, and a lot of microwaves can get into the triple digits for a quality one. The Danby countertop microwave, though, is all about quality on a budget.
This 21-pound microwave, which includes a 10-inch turntable, has all the basic necessities for preparing a meal. There’s an express cook option that can cook your food in minutes, auto defrost, and a child lock to ensure younger children are safe while this microwave is in use. All in all, there are 6 presets, a timer, and an “add 30 seconds” option under the LED display. This 700-watt microwave is perfect for people looking for something simple and approachable without enhanced features that will remain unused.
Best Compact: AmazonBasics Microwave
Dimensions (LxWxH): 17.3 x 14.1 x 10.1 inches | Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet | Wattage: 700 W
When you’re looking for something small, easy to use, and gets the job done with high-tech features, then the AmazonBasics Microwave is an excellent choice. Ask Alexa compatible, this microwave can cook your food with the sound of your voice.
Only weighing 21 pounds, this compact microwave can fit smaller items easily like warming mugs and smaller plates of food. It comes with 10 power levels, a kitchen timer, and a child lock. If you need a small microwave, this can easily be placed in your kitchen without taking up space for your other needs.
Related: The Best Microwaves
Best Design: Comfee’ Retro Countertop Microwave Oven
Dimensions (LxWxH): 17.3 x 14.1 x 10.2 inches | Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet | Wattage: 700 W
If you’re into vintage-looking kitchen appliances with modern features, the Comfee’ Retro Countertop Microwave Oven is for you.
This retro-style microwave is on the small side with a weight of 24 pounds and includes a 10-inch turntable. It is perfect for people who want something different to fit their old-school aesthetic and something small enough to fit in tinier spaces.
The 700-watt microwave comes with a child safety lock, eco mode, and a nine auto preset mode. The buttons on this countertop microwave aren’t the standard display, rather there are logo keypad designs and a knob to turn your microwave on to its desired setting.
Best Convection: Toshiba EC042A5C-BS 1.5 Cubic Feet Convection Microwave Oven
Dimensions (LxWxH): 22.1 x 21.8 x 13 inches | Capacity: 1.5 cubic feet | Wattage: 1000 W
Need an efficient microwave that has a nice interior size and high-tech features? Then the Toshiba Convection Microwave Oven is a must-have.
This 1000-watt microwave is perfect for people who want the option to cook their food regularly and use it as a traditional oven. It comes in stainless steel, which makes it easy to clean, and has a smart sensor that cooks pre-programmed foods like pizza and vegetables effectively. What’s even better are its automatic features like auto bake and auto roast and the ability to mute the buzzer of the microwave entirely.
Related: The Best Toaster Ovens
Best Full-Size: Farberware FMO11AHTBKB Stainless Steel Countertop Microwave Oven
Dimensions (LxWxH): 20.2 x 16.5 x 12 inches | Capacity: 1.1 cubic feet | Wattage: 1000 W
Need a spacious countertop microwave with a nice design, a spacious interior, 10 power levels, and four color options? Then this Farberware microwave can provide you with everything you need.
This 1000-watt full-size microwave is 25.8 pounds and has an interior capacity of 1.1 cubic feet. This microwave is perfect for people who need a large interior for big plates or cookware. Inside, you’ll find a 12.5-inch glass turntable that can handle any dinner plate. This microwave comes with a child safety lock, six one-touch cooking programs, and a sleek LED display.
Best Inverter: Panasonic NN-SN686S 1.2 Cubic Feet Microwave Oven with Inverter Technology
Dimensions (LxWxH): 20.7 x 15.8 x 12.25 inches | Capacity: 1.2 cubic feet | Wattage: 1200 W
Inverter technology delivers evenly cooked food by providing a stream of power in all directions. This means warming it up evenly and thoroughly, eliminating those dreaded hot spots.
Made of aluminum and stainless steel, this countertop microwave has inverter technology to cook your food all the way through and this includes a turbo setting for faster defrosting. You’ll also find that this 1200-watt microwave has other appealing features like its genius sensor that automatically adjusts its times based on the food inside the microwave. A keep-warm feature and 14 auto cook functions round out its specifics.
"I love this microwave. It was a major upgrade from the small one I had for ten years. It is gigantic so fits anything you can imagine, it heats up leftovers so easily and evenly using just the one-touch Sensor Reheat button, and the defrost setting really does an amazing job of defrosting frozen proteins without cooking them around the edges like most microwaves." — Eric Handelsman, SVP, Dotdash Food & Drink
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If you’re looking for a simple microwave that is inexpensive but also has high-tech features, then the Toshiba Smart Countertop Microwave Oven (view at Amazon) is for you. If you need something on a budget because you don’t have a lot of money to spend, then the Danby Countertop Microwave (view at Amazon) is another great option.
What to Look for When Buying a Countertop Microwave
People living in smaller spaces might find that they need to purchase a less powerful countertop microwave, while those with larger spaces can opt for a larger one with more features. The length, width, and depth depend on the brand and style. If you know that you’ll spend a lot of time using your microwave, then the interior size will also matter because your microwave will be only as good as what you can fit in it when feeding yourself or your family.
Simply put, a high wattage countertop microwave will cook your food faster. This doesn’t mean that a low-wattage microwave is inferior; it will just take longer to cook your food. Most microwaves on the market will range from about 600 to 1,200 watts. Some of the smaller microwaves will have lower wattage, so it is important to look at the specifications if a higher wattage is desired.
Weight is another thing you’ll want to think about with countertop microwaves. Are they movable? Typically, more expensive and technologically savvy countertop microwaves will have a lot of weight on them, especially if they are made from stainless steel. But certain brands have the best of both worlds, lighter weight, and advanced features.
First-time owners of a countertop microwave should opt for a no-frills microwave to keep down the cost and for practicality. All basic microwaves should have the ability to reheat, defrost, and set the power level. If you’re looking for something more high-tech, then sensor cooking, removable racks, convection, and grilling are a few features to look out for in more expensive countertop microwaves.
How do you clean a microwave?
Using a solution of warm citrus and water or vinegar and water can clean a microwave in a pinch. What helps even more is cleaning your microwave regularly to maintain the health of it over time.
Are countertop microwaves dangerous?
Countertop microwaves are not dangerous. Microwaves don’t have any risks associated with them unless there are metals or foil placed inside.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
As a professional trained in research and an amateur baker, Robin Mosley understands the importance of choosing the right kitchen appliances. She is always researching and testing the latest kitchen appliances, utensils, and products as a food writer and recommending them to interested food aficionados.
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